When it comes to mastering the art of happiness, Finland is officially the world’s expert. In 2023, this Nordic country was named the happiest country in the world for the sixth consecutive year by the United Nations World Happiness Report. So the question is: how could Finnish secrets to living well be used to attract global travellers’ interest in Finland?
TLN’s American member agency, Zapwater Communications, found the answer. After digging deep into travellers’ desires – by monitoring the media and getting the inside scoop from their travel media contacts – they identified an overwhelming post-COVID traveller trend towards wellness.
Starting with the premise that wellness, and indeed happiness, is a skill that can be learned and shared, Visit Finland launched the Happiness Campaign: Find your Inner. The goal of the campaign was to share Finnish lifestyle and wellness practices with the world while promoting Finland as a destination.
Sharing Happiness as a Skill
Zapwater Communications initiated the campaign in the United States in March 2023, launching a competition for all-expenses-paid trips to Finland. The prize offered? The opportunity to experience a four-day Happiness Masterclass – a programme led by expert coaches around four themes: Nature & Lifestyle, Food & Wellbeing, Health and Balance, and Design & Everyday.
Over 150,000 entrants worldwide participated in an online submission and social media challenge. Their task? To provide proof why they could ‘secretly be a Finn’. Out of this large pool, 14 wellness wannabees were selected as winners, including three entrants from the U.S.A.
Creating Ripples of Wellness
Zapwater Communications’ promotional efforts for the campaign included outreach for applications and media coordination. Visit Finland Happiness Campaign: Find your Inner Finn quickly gained significant media traction and was discussed on platforms like The View and shared by Kourtney Kardashian on Morning Brew and her personal Instagram story.
More viral coverage and a feature story in Travel + Leisure, which reached 12 million readers, came from press trips arranged by Zapwater Communications for a U.S. journalist and Megan Homme (a popular travel influencer), who both previewed the Masterclass in Finland.
An exclusive on-site episode with ABC’s Nightline was also secured, making ABC the sole broadcaster to cover Visit Finland’s Happiness Masterclass with the winning entrants on-site.
The campaign was enormously successful. It generated 1.6 billion impressions with a publicity value of US$60 million, was covered in over 573 online articles in major publications like Afar, Thrillist, and USA Today, and earned a following of 500,000 across Instagram and TikTok. Homme’s trip content received over 151,000 impressions alone.
The campaign continues with a globally accessible online version of the Happiness Masterclass, launched in September 2023. This online masterclass served as a guide to a Boston Globe journalist on her media visit to Finland arranged by Zapwater Communications, paving the way for a feature scheduled for Autumn 2023. A podcast with NPR’s Planet Money is also on the horizon, with discussions about the campaign and interviews with coaches and winners.
Additionally, CNBC featured the online masterclass on Make It, reaching 50 outlets and accumulating over 127 million impressions. All of the above is made even more impressive by the fact that it was achieved on a US$20,000 budget.
Tapping into the Finnish secrets of happiness and wellness in a campaign to promote this Nordic destination was an incredibly creative and insightful marketing solution for Visit Finland and a resounding success.
It continues to resonate deeply with travellers, as is evidenced by the popularity of the online masterclass and increasing travel interest in Finland, positioning it as a leading wellness destination.